Google Speeds Up Mobile Sites


Google has unveiled a new system for making web pages load quicker on mobile devices. It seems to be an attempt to prevent people using dedicated apps instead, particularly for news sources.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a set of open source code that’s a variant on HTML and uses existing technologies. It’s partly designed to simply cut down the amount of code required to deliver a page, thus making for quicker loading.

However, AMP also has some tweaks to speed up loading. For example, it makes sure one of the first thing the browser checks is the location and dimensions of any external ads, meaning it can leave an appropriate space and doesn’t have to adjust the page layout as and when those ads load.

Several leading websites including WordPress and LinkedIn have already said they’ll support AMP, meaning that pages published in that format can be embedded on those sites and load “instantly” there as well. Meanwhile AMP pages will be able to embed tweets or Vines.

According to Google, a page using AMP won’t get any special treatment in its ranking algorithms, though it will likely get an indirect benefit simply by being faster to load as speed is one of the key factors in ranking on Google.

Google says ads will be allowed on AMP pages and that it won’t ask for any extra cut from revenues. However, it’s still working out the details of whether and how the format will work with paywalled sites, or if it will affect the ability of site owners to track traffic.

While Google is talking up the project as benefiting all sites and users, it does have some self-interest. The move appears to be inspired by a belief that slow-loading news sites are driving people towards standalone mobile apps where Google is much less likely to benefit from delivering ads.

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